North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspects the "Dropping and Target-striking Contest of KPA Special Operation Forces - 2017" at an undisclosed location in North Korea. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS
Korean tension spreads in Asia
April 15, 2017 17:32 By Cod Satrusayang ANN Desk Asia News Network
Tensions between the United States and North Korea continues to threaten the uneasy peace that the region is accustomed to with several regional players raising alarms and taking precaution.
Despite continued talks with China, Japan and South Korea, indications from Washington are that the United States are prepared to take unilateral action if North Korea continues its provocation.
A carrier task force is now in the area after being diverted from Southeast Asia and President Donald Trump has been quoted numerous times promising action if North Korea misbehaves.
"North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of,” Trump said at a press briefing last Thursday.
Trump added that he had been negotiating directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the Korean matter.
"I will say, I think China has really been working very hard. I have really gotten to like and respect...President Xi," said Trump.
But indication from State Department Officials suggest that the White House were preparing for a scenario where help from China was unlikely. With North Korea making preparations for a military demonstration on the anniversary of the country's founder, unilateral action may come sooner rather than later.
The tough rhetoric from the United States may have been sought by both South Korea and Japan for some time, but its arrival means an uneasy present for the two countries, both of which are in range of North Korean missiles.
An editorial in Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun calls for "all possible contingency" plans to be put in place should rhetoric be replaced by action.
"The Japanese government must take all possible measures to prepare for any contingency," the editorial said. "The government needs to confront the situation on the Korean Peninsula with a sense of urgency."
According to Yomiuri, Tokyo requested that Washington consult Japan before taking any military action. Washington will reportedly comply with the request for such prior consultation.
South Korea has also stepped up its military preparations and is calling for closer cooperation and intelligence sharing betwen the United States and Seoul.
The South Korean military said it is closely monitoring any development from across the border, assessing the North is capable of detonating a device at the northern or southern portals of the Punggye-ri nuclear complex.
Col. Roh Jae-cheon, spokesperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday the explosion could take place at any time, though it has not detected any clear signs of an imminent blast.
But as the most likely target for retaliatory strikes by the North, South Korea are urging dialogue in the case of any North missile/weapons test.
The Chinese Question
China is also urging dialogue with North Korea in place of any military options. As North Korea's only ally in the world, China has a large influence on North Korean actions. However, in recent months, even Beijing has expressed its wariness at the antics of the hermit kingdom.
China suspended coal imports, one of the largest sources of income for North Korea, earlier this year and stressed behind closed doors that it will press the North into halting its nuclear program.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday that a war was the worst possible outcome for all parties.
We urge all parties to refrain from inflammatory or threatening statements and deeds to prevent the situation on the Korean Peninsula from becoming irreversible," Wang said
"There has been heightened tension between the United States, the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The precarious situation deserves our attention and concern," he added.